Defining success

This is an important one for me and I’m assuming many others out there.  Defining success!  It will mean something different for everyone!  So what does it mean to you?  Do you want millions of dollars, a big family, a bunch of fancy cars, or maybe just financial peace of mind?  I keep a set of short term and long term goals.  Goal setting is further discussed in my earlier post titled Realize your goals for those who are interested.

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My wife and me out to dinner in Philadelphia, PA

I keep track of my progress in a spreadsheet and have 4 focus categories laid out.  These categories are where I focus the majority of my effort in obtaining success.  I have already accomplished so much, but also have a long way to go.

My focus categories:

  • Personal
  • Career (meaning full time job)
  • Investments (meaning companies I am invested in and 401k type stuff)
  • School (furthering my education to better prepare myself for the future)

Personal

I have already found the love of my life (my wife), adopted two lovely pets (Whitney & Lois), and are expecting our first child very shortly.  I am constantly trying to further my religious beliefs and become more involved in my community.  My wife and me have also traveled to many parts of the world including Mexico, Bahamas, Germany, Ireland, England, Spain, Germany, Holland, Italy, and so on.  Some of these activities we participated in were planned and some were not planned.  The important thing is we took advantage of almost every opportunity that came to us, if we thought it was beneficial to us in some way.  It was actually the movie “Yes Man” starring Jim Carrey that opened my eyes to the power of yes.  Do not get in the habit of saying no because you can miss out on a lot of great opportunities.

Defining success for your personal focus category is purely up to you.  This is an area where you should be able to decide without influence of much else.  I also feel this should be the most important category of the four I mentioned because these goals may mean the most to you.  It may be different for everyone, but for me this is my most important focus category when defining success.

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Cliffs of Moher – Ireland

Career

As mentioned in my About page, I have already finished my BS in Biochemistry, MS in Packaging, and have many years in both pharmaceuticals and food as both a chemist and packaging engineer.  In your career you will want to think about the next role you would like to have.  It is equally as important to think two roles out because you may find the next role you are planning to take will not lead you there.  At times you may want to take parallel career shifts to get to where you ultimately want to be.  In defining success or shall I say defining your success, you need to determine where you ultimately want to be.  Do you want to be a CEO of a fortune 100 company or do you want to be a general manager of a business unit at a fortune 500 company?  Do you want to be an entrepreneur or do you want to work full time as an industrial engineer at an automotive company?

There are many choices for you to make and many opportunities out there for you.  You will want to set yourself up for success sooner rather than later.  This means you will want to do well in school and participate in at least one good internship.  You will want to network as often as you can and provide everyone with the best version of you.  This means, you need to be top notch 100% of the time because you never know when you will meet someone that can provide you with an amazing opportunity.  It is your life and the success must be defined by you through good planning and true effort.

Investments

Since you are defining your success, you may need investments early on to help get you there.  If you want to be a millionaire, you may need to plant seeds early on in promising businesses or companies.  Investments could be 401k, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ownership of new startup companies, and so on.  There are risks associated with investments you need to be aware of and it is your job to determine if the risk is worth the possible pay out.  Early on I made some investments in a variety of businesses.  Some of the investments were funded by money and other investments were funded by time.  A lot of times people think of investing purely as money investments.  You can also invest time, which does also count too.  Occasionally, time can be more valuable than money in terms of investments.

An example of this is in high school when I had my own landscaping business.  I invested a little bit of money to get started, but the bulk of my investment was time.  I eventually grew the business and hired local neighborhood kids to help me out.  Later on in life, I created other businesses and also invested time to help those businesses grow.  From the start I knew I wanted to be successful, but at times success is difficult to define.  Just because you define it as one thing today, does not mean you cannot change your definition later on.  You may need to change your success definition in time as you gain more knowledge and better understand what you really want.

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School

After college I started out as a Chemist and did not receive my graduates degree until later on when I was full time at a fortune 500 company.  Fortunately, my the company paid 100% of my tuition once I was at the company for 1 year.  I would recommend all presented with an opportunity to continue education at the expense of their company.  Education is expensive, which is why it is great when someonee else is paying for it.  Learning should be a very big part in achieving your goals.  As you progress forward and advance yourself, you will need to increase your knowledge and expertise.

You should include school or continued learning in your plan to achieve success.  For example, if you want to be promoted at your job it does not hurt to have more education to compete against other candidates.  At some companies, you need a certain level of education to reach various levels in the corporation.  This seems to be the case at most major corporations these days.  It also shows them you are very interested in advancing yourself.

Key takeaways

  • Build out your short term and long term goals
  • Define success and make it personal
  • Your definition of success may change over time as you learn more
  • Further educate yourself often and never stop learning

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